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Open AccessArticle

Do Prenatally-Conditioned Flavor Preferences Affect Consumption of Creep Feed by Piglets?

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Departamento de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7820436, Chile
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Departamento de Fomento de la Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santa Rosa 11735, La Pintana, Santiago 8820000, Chile
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Floramatic S.A, Av. Marathon 1989, Ñuñoa, Santiago 7750000, Chile
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(11), 944; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110944
Received: 3 October 2019 / Revised: 7 November 2019 / Accepted: 8 November 2019 / Published: 10 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
In pig farming, weaning is abrupt, and occurs between the third and fourth week of age. Creep feed is commonly offered to reduce feed neophobia by creating a sensory link between suckling and post-weaning diets. However, low intake of creep feed is observed within and between litters. This experiment estimates the effect of prenatal flavor exposure on the performance of piglets when the same flavors are included into their creep feed. Gestational sows were fed either a flavored (garlic or aniseed; n24) or an unflavored diet (n24) from 90 to 114 days of gestation. Their litters were offered either garlic, aniseed or unflavored creep feed during the suckling period, and its intake was measured as well as the animal’s final body weight (BW) and average daily gain (ADG). No differences are found in any parameter analyzed according to prenatal flavor exposure (p > 0.05), observing a huge feed intake variability between litters. An unclear post-ingestive benefit of flavored creep feed intake, and the reward contrast between maternal milk and creep feed diets, may accelerate flavor learning extinction during the suckling period. Results of the present and previous experiments suggest that current flavor continuity strategies that are proposed for pig production systems need to be reconsidered.
Piglets can prefer flavors that are presented to pregnant sows, hence this study intended to estimate the effect of prenatal exposure of piglets to flavors on the intake of flavored creep feed and performance. Gestational sows were fed either a flavored (garlic or aniseed; n24) or an unflavored diet (n24) from days 90 to 114 of gestation. Their litters were offered either garlic, aniseed, or unflavored creep feed during the suckling period, and its intake was measured as well as animal’s final body weight (BW) and average daily gain (ADG). Data was analyzed taking into account the diet offered to both sows and piglets, as well as the interaction between these variables. As previous experiments have shown, flavor learning did not affect a piglet’s performance during the suckling period, finding no differences for creep feed intake, ADG, or BW according to diets (p > 0.05). Repeated exposure of piglets to previously learned flavors without clear post-ingestive benefits could nullify the strategies proposed. Moreover, milk and creep feed diets show a great reward contrast that may accelerate learning extinction. Results of the present and previous experiments suggest that current flavor continuity strategies that are proposed for pig production systems need to be reconsidered. View Full-Text
Keywords: Creep feeding; flavors; learning; piglet performance; prenatal exposure Creep feeding; flavors; learning; piglet performance; prenatal exposure
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MDPI and ACS Style

Figueroa, J.; Marchant, I.; Morales, P.; Salazar, L.C. Do Prenatally-Conditioned Flavor Preferences Affect Consumption of Creep Feed by Piglets? Animals 2019, 9, 944.

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